Beyond Hollywood

Wednesday 7 June 2006

Leading international filmmakers, critics and film scholars will descend on St Andrews next week, as the University’s Centre for Film Studies celebrates its first anniversary.

World-renowned French filmmaker Claire Denis and acclaimed Arab documentary director Mohamad Soueid are among those attending the ‘Cinema at the Periphery’ conference which will focus on films outwith ‘the mainstream’ – ranging from productions made in Scotland and Malta to the Balkans. The conference – running from 15-17 June 2006 – marks a successful first year in the life of the University’s Centre for Film Studies.

Professor Dina Iordanova, Director of the Centre and leading international specialist in Eastern European and Balkan cinema said, “From Iceland to Iran, from Singapore to Quebec, there is currently a growing intellectual and cultural wave of production addressing the notion of the ‘periphery’ beyond the boundaries of the nation-state. There is a concerted move towards exploring faraway places, interacting with barely known peoples, and making new localities imaginable. In recent years, international cinema has produced a large body of work that foregrounds questions of transnationality, place, space, passage and migration. We’re looking at films outwith the usual Hollywood blockbuster sector – films from places on the periphery which are fascinating and teach us a lot about other people’s cultures and societies”.

In what will be a rare appearance in the UK, renowned French director Claire Denis will introduce and discuss two of her finest films, ‘Chocolat’ (1988) and ‘Beau Travail’ (1999), works whose settings fit perfectly into the ‘periphery’ theme of the conference and which combine intense lyricism with a subtle commentary on the French colonial heritage. The screenings will take place at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) on 16 June.

Mohamad Soueid, a major Lebanese filmmaker, novelist and film critic from Beirut, will introduce his controversial film, ‘Civil War’ (2002), which was censored in Lebanon, part of a trilogy that includes the prizewinning ‘Tango of Yearning’ (1998) and ‘Nightfall’ (2002).

Meanwhile, Duncan Petrie, the leading historian of Scottish cinema based at the University of Auckland, will discuss the challenges facing periphery cinema in the face of major, Hollywood blockbusters boasting lavish production and promotional budgets, major stars and dazzling special effects.

Famous scholars like Hamid Naficy (Rice University, Houston) and Dudley Andrew (Yale University) will talk on the cinemas of Iran and the Pacific Rim respectively.

Pam Cook from the University of Southampton, editor of the major anthologies ‘The Cinema Book’ and ‘Women and Film’ and author of important works on British cinema, will survey the career of the Australian director Baz Luhrman (‘Strictly Ballroom’, ‘Moulin Rouge’) both in Australia and in Hollywood.

Other international scholars will discuss aspects of Chinese, Morroccan, Quebecois, aboriginal and transcultural cinemas.

The conference will also see the launch of three books by St Andrews academics including one on actor John Mills, by Professor Gill Plain of the University’s School of English, Dr David Martin-Jones’ book on Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity, and Professor Iordanova’s new book on the Cinema of the Balkans.

Full details can be found at events/conferences/main.htm

Film studies at St Andrews is steadily growing in popularity and acclaim. The department offers a range of joint MA degrees, with disciplines such as English and various modern languages, International Relations, and Philosophy. A postgraduate degree (MLitt) in Film Studies will be offered from September and a number of international PhD students are already working on film studies doctorates supervised from within the department. The Centre collaborates with the local NPH Cinema and Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) in Dundee, as well as with a range of international film festivals, filmmakers and scholars.



Full details of the conference available at – events/conferences/main.htm or by calling the University Press Office – contact details below. Abstracts also available on-line.

Issued by Beattie Media – On behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information, please contact Claire Grainger, Press Officer – 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or cg24@st-; Ref: press releases/filmstuds View the latest University news at

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